8. Phoenix Mercury: Jessica Shepard, 6’4 F, Notre Dame
In 2018, the Mercury solved their Sancho Lyttle injury problem by moving DeWanna Bonner to the four. But there’s a larger question, which is: what is the ideal four to play next to Brittney Griner as she continues her Hall of Fame career? Jessica Shepard might be just that ideal four, and the Mercury aren’t going to let her get past them if she makes it this far.
Understand what Shepard is: a dangerous offensive player who has scored at will since her Nebraska days, through double-teams, through triple-teams. A hard-nosed defensive player who managed to slow down Teaira McCowan in the NCAA title game. A shooter who regularly shot beyond the arc until last season, when Muffet McGraw needed her inside to replace Brianna Turner, and both McGraw and Shepard told me last spring that they expect her to return out there. My favorite thing Jessica Shepard does on the court, and there are many, is throw outlet passes. Sandy Brondello loves to run, and Shepard’s going to get her several transition buckets a game with those passes, which, if you’ll forgive the female-to-male crossover, I’ve seen twice before: from Kevin Love when he was at UCLA, and in old clips of Wes Unseld. Personally, I think Shepard stands a good chance of rising in this draft, but this is where the league has her right now.